Putin Warns of "Asymmetric" Response to U.S. Missile Defense

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said his country could take "asymmetric" measures to respond to U.S. missile defense activities, the Xinhua News Agency reported (see GSN, Feb. 22).

Moscow sees U.S. and NATO efforts to establish a ballistic missile shield in Europe as a potential scheme to undermine the Russian strategic nuclear deterrent. The Western military alliance insists its antimissile efforts are aimed at countering a feared missile assault from the Middle East.

Russia for more than a year has engaged in talks with Brussels and Washington on areas for potential antimissile collaboration, but a deal on the matter at present appears distant.  A key factor in the failure to reach an agreement is the Kremlin's insistence that it receive a binding pledge that U.S. missile interceptors installed in Europe would never be aimed at Russian long-range missiles.

President Dmitry Medvedev earlier this week renewed warnings that Russia could deploy antimissile systems and short-range missiles in territory that borders NATO states if an accord on missile defense cannot be reached.

"What shall we do? We have to either build our own antimissile defense or give some asymmetrical answers," said Putin, who is widely anticipated to retake the Russian presidency in voting on March 4.

Moscow would choose to enhance its antimissile and air defense capabilities, according to Putin. New strategic missiles that U.S. interceptors cannot destroy would also be built, he said.

"Topol M and Yars are new-generation missiles. One can say we are a bit ahead of our American partners in this term," the prime minister said (see GSN, Feb. 21; Xinhua News Agency/China.org.cn, Feb. 23).

The Russian strategic missile forces intends by 2020 that its weapons systems will be nearly all new, RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday.

The present level is roughly 30 percent.

“We hope that this share will increase to 60 percent by 2016 and reach 97 percent by 2020,” strategic missile forces chief Lt. Gen. Sergei Karakayev told Medvedev on Tuesday (RIA Novosti, Feb. 22).

 

Feb. 23, 2012
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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said his country could take "asymmetric" measures to respond to U.S. missile defense activities, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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